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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Chōryō rescuing a slipper from the Wei River for Kōsekikō,
the 'Yellow Stone Elder' (漢黄石公), disguised as an insignificant old man,
from the series Kan-So Gundan (漢楚軍談)

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Dates: 1827,created
Dimensions: 10.75 in,15.375 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: ōju Gototei Kunisada ga
(By special request... 應需五渡亭国貞画)
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
(Marks 391 - seal 01-008)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Lyon Collection - Fan Kuai print from this series;Lyon Collection - Yu Ki print from this series;

Physical description:


Metropolitan Museum's Inrō with Chōryo and Kosekiko>

There is a Nō play composed by Nobumitsu (d. 1516) entitled Chōryō. The action takes place in China. It begins with:

"I am Chorio, a subject of Koso of Kan, though I am busy in service I had a strange dream that there was in Kahi an earthen bridge, and that as I leaned on the bridge-rail there came an old man on horseback. And he dropped one of his shoes and bade me pick up the shoe. I thought this uncivil, yet he seemed so uncommon a figure and so gone on in old age that I went and picked up the shoe. 'You've a true heart' he said, 'come back here in five days' time, and I will teach you all there is to know about fighting.' He said that, and then I woke up, and now it's five days since the dream, and I am on my way to Kahi. Dawn begins to show in the sky. I am afraid I may be too late. The mountain is already lit, and I am just reaching the bridge."

Chōryō failed to get there in time and is told to come back again in five days... "if you carry a true heart within you. And I shall be here, and will teach you the true craft of fighting. Keep the hour, and keep true to your promise. How angry the old man seemed. How suddenly he is gone. Chorio, see that you come here in time."

The next time Chōryō gets to Kahi bridge before Kōsekikō. The Chorus begins: "Kosekko kicked off his shoe so it fell in the river. Then Chorio leapt in for the shoe, but the river flowed between rocks ; it was full of currents and arrow-like rapids. He went diving and floating and still not reaching the shoe. See how the waves draw back. A thick mist covers the place, a dragon moves in darkness, ramping among the waves, lolling its fiery tongue. It is fighting with Chorio; see, it has seized on the shoe.

Chorio drew his sword calmly.

Chorus:

He struck a great blow at the dragon; there was terrible light on his sword. See, the dragon draws back and leaves Chorio with the shoe. Then Chorio sheathed his sword and brought up the shoe to Kosekko, and buckled it fast to his foot.

And Kosekko got down from his horse.

Chorus:

He alighted, saying, 'Well done. Well done.' And he gave a scroll of writing to Chorio, containing all the secret traditions of warfare. And Kosekko said, 'That dragon was Kwannon. She came here to try your heart, and she must be your goddess hereafter.' Then the dragon went up to the clouds, and Kosekko drew back to the highest peak, and set his light in the sky; was changed to the yellow stone.

Quoted from: 'Noh': Or Accomplishment, a Study of the Classical Stage of Japan by Ernest Fenollosa and Ezra Pound.

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Illustrated in Ukiyo-e dai musha-e ten - 浮世絵大武者絵展 - (The Samurai World in Ukiyo-e), edited by Yuriko Iwakiri, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, 2003, #121, p. 50.

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There are two other prints from this series in the Lyon Collection. See the links above.

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There is another copy of this print in the Hachinohe Clinic Machikado Museum.